Deep-Fried Fuel

Man on a mission

It’s not every day that a student turns a simple classroom assignment into major ecological change at McGill. But Mike Arnold, BCom’10, has done just that.

Last year his Social Context in Business professor asked students to think outside the box to design a project that “makes a difference.” So essentially, think up an innovative way to create a tangible impact on the community and run with it.

Carrots per kilometre

When confronted by this challenge, Mike immediately thought of his dad, who once converted the diesel engine of the family sedan to run on vegetable oil. “My dad’s no mechanic,” he thought. “How difficult or expensive could it be?”

So Mike asked for an extension from the professor, which gave him some leeway to think big, and he set out to reduce the entire University’s diesel fuel emissions. His idea was simple: rig two McGill-owned diesel trucks to run on vegetable oil.

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Healthier than it sounds

You may have heard of Mike’s project already, which we McGillians call Deep-Fried Fuel. It created a bit of buzz at the University and around Montreal when the 2009 graduating class chose it for their Class Action fundraising project. These students felt a special connection to Mike’s vision of recycling vegetable waste from campus fast food joints and reducing fuel emissions at the same time.

Shifting into high gear

When paired with Class Action, Deep-Fried Fuel not only raised enough money to purchase the engine conversion kit and hire a mechanic to do the job, it also suped up environmental awareness throughout the University community. Not bad for a single class assignment.

The project is still going strong as Mike prepares to graduate this spring and, with new backing through Seeds of Change, he’s hopeful his brainchild will continue to grow. He’s greased the wheels, so to speak, and now it’s up to the next generation to step on the gas.

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